On this page you can find all the information you need for the GGJ Boston @Northeastern University, which will take place at the Digital Media Commons (DMC) in the Snell Library. You can use the links below to jump to specific topics you are interested in:
- Preparing for the GGJ
- GGJ Registration
- GGJ Game Delivery
- GGJ Theme Diversifiers
- Communication and Social Media
- GGJ Promotions
- Detailed Schedule
- Tools and Resources
Please feel free to make additional suggestions to the organizer Casper Harteveld (firstname.lastname@example.org).
The information provided here is based on tips and suggestions by many jam organizers. Specifically, we would like to acknowledge Matt Perrin from the Cleveland Game Devs, Convict Interactive from Wollongong, Australia, Hazel McKendrick, and Jackson Wood and Claudio Ost from Hochschule Darmstadt, Germany.
Preparing for the GGJ
Make sure to check the following in preparation of the event:
- Read over all of this!
- Although we have your name, print out the ticket from EventBrite just in case and bring it with you.
- Bring your own computer/laptop: the DMC does have computers but use of these has several disadvantages, see the facilities. If you bring other large equipment, please notify the organizer in advance.
- Don’t forget power cords and accessories such as your mouse, stylus, and headphones. Feel also free to bring any prototyping material you tend to use.
- Pack any snacks and drinks that you love and need to keep focused and energized. While we provide food and drinks, you may be in need of this during the event in between the meals. Some restaurants and coffee bars are also around in the vicinity, so if you are in need of something, you can get it.
- Install software in advance, see the tools (but keep in mind to make use of tools you are comfortable with).
- If you plan on doing some power naps or don’t plan on leaving the DMC, you should consider bringing some sleeping material. We have no beds, but I’m sure you can get a rest somewhere. It is recommended that participants get at least 5 hours of sleep because tired minds make mistakes.
- Make sure you keep yourself fresh throughout the event, especially if you are staying overnight. So bring your toothbrush, deodorant, and all kinds of other material to make you look fresh and shiny until the end of the jam.
- Whether you create a digital or analog game, have some basics to work with. You could bring some basic analog game elements or layouts or have some base code examples of typical game archetypes, such as platformers, puzzlers, or racing games. You can, of course, create everything from scratch (and some may prefer this experience during the jam and some jams even prescribe this) but it helps to have a foundation to build on and have some building blocks ready. This will help you to focus more on the creative parts of the process rather than having to focus on the development.
- Feel free to bring board and card games with you, to have a break, relax a bit, and socialize with others. Other relaxation items are possible too. It is up to you!
- You can already register at this site and later join a team and associate yourself with a game, see GGJ Registration.
All participants who want to receive credit for their game, need to register before Saturday 11 am. Registration occurs as follows:
- Go to http://globalgamejam.org/
- Create a profile by clicking on “login to GGJ” and choosing “Create new account”
- Join this location at the drop down menu “Jam Site 2013″. This location “USA – Massachusetts – Boston – GGJ Boston @ Northeastern University”
- Also join a team and associate yourself with a game. If the game doesn’t exist, the game needs to be created online by one of the team members first.
GGJ Game delivery
All games should be uploaded to the GGJ server. This needs to happen on Sunday before 3 pm. One of the core ideas of GGJ is sharing, so not only the executable has to be uploaded, also the source code, assets, makefiles, and mostly everything else needed to compile your game. The exact procedure will be disseminated here, but it will happen more or less as described here.
GGJ Theme and Diversifiers
GGJ has a theme, that everyone shares and is the kernel for teams to start brainstorming. The theme will be revealed on Friday. Remember, the theme is a surprise, please don’t tweet or share the theme on social networks. It needs to be a secret to sites that start later than yours! Hawaii will be the last site to announce the theme and so after 10 PM you can start talking about the theme using social media.
In addition to the theme, the GGJ has diversifiers. The GGJ Diversifier system is a system aimed at diversifying the games as well as providing motivation for experienced game jammers. In a sense, the diversifiers are a free-for-all voluntary list of secondary constraints, that the individual teams can choose to go for, or not, as they please. If they do go for one or more diversifiers, they get to tick off those diversifiers as fulfilled when uploading their game. As stated above, the diversifiers are absolutely voluntary, and no points are given for taking them. If you are a first time team of students, we recommend that you focus primarily on the overall constraint, and only add in extra diversifiers if you feel sure you will have something to hand in on sunday.
The diversifiers for 2013 can be found here.
Communication and Social Media
You can chat with GGJ participants all over the world using Freenode (channel: #ggj13). You can talk about the jam, progress, what you and they are up to, discuss design issues, and share work. For other ways of finding and sharing information, see below:
- Twitter: @GlobalGameJam
- Facebook GGJ general group: http://www.facebook.com/groups/47850149930/
- Facebook GGJ Page: https://www.facebook.com/GlobalGameJam
- Facebook GGJ13 event: https://www.facebook.com/events/400303606706147/
- Google+: http://plus.google.com/102068346576091895888/posts
- Flickr group: http://www.flickr.com/groups/ggj13/ (add photos of your own #ggj13 location)
- Youtube: http://www.youtube.com/GlobalGameJam
- Vimeo: http://vimeo.com/user5776211
Make sure you don’t miss the GGJ promotions. Some of the promotions involve job offers…Contact the organizer if you want to make use of one of the promotions and can’t access them yourself.
The campus of Northeastern University can be conveniently accessed via the Northeastern Station (Green Line – E toward Heath St.) or at Ruggles station (Orange Line). The library is a short walk from both stations. The Digital Media Commons (DMC) is located at the second floor of the library. After entering the library make a right and take either the elevator or the stairs. The DMC is then right there.
Upon entering the library mention that you are participant of the Global Game Jam and mention your name if you do not have a Northeastern ID. The library staff members and security should have your name listed. If you encounter any problems, please contact the organizer.
Information for guest & visitor parking at Northeastern can be found here. Two parking possibilities exist: the Renaissance Park Garage and the Gainsborough Garage. A map of all parking facilities, including these, can be found here.
- Except for DMC-3, all of the DMC rooms (DMC-1 to DMC-5) can be used. These rooms have plug-in monitors and other material that you can use to collaborate.
- DMC-3 is greyed out in the map because this will be used to store equipment and valuables. This door will be locked.
- Classroom 246 SL is where we will start and end the jam. In between this space can be used by anyone.
- Classroom 219 SL is where the food and drinks are.
- Participants can use the library’s room reservation service to book the small group study rooms 221, 223, 225, and 227. These rooms are locked otherwise so you can’t just go into to them.
- All other rooms and sites have no specific function and can be used whenever you want.
The space is open 24/7 and has technical assistance 24/7 too.
The library has several computers you can make use of and that include important development software such as the Adobe products and Autodesk (for a complete overview of the software, see here). However, no software can be installed on these computers and the computers log you out after 5 minutes (!) of inactivity, making the computers especially difficult to use for rendering. So keep this in mind. For this reason, we recommend and urge everyone to bring their own computer/laptop.
Guests can access the Internet through the NUwave-guest network. After accepting the network’s policy you can make use of the Internet. Northeastern students and other affiliates can, of course, make use of the NUwave network.
- Set reasonable goals: don’t over reach. Keep it simple stupid (KISS). Avoid features that involve multiplayer, complex interactions, physics, third party libraries or lots of art assets or model rigging.
- Avoid feature creep: make a clean and simple game concept and stick to it.
- Cut unnecessary features: in fact, it is better to cut then to add.
- Fail fast: if something goes wrong, accept it and move on or look for help. You don’t want to waste precious time.
- Avoid searching for that one special item: with so many free content around, you may end up searching for that one item you want and that takes up a lot of valuable time. Use things that are satisfying. Sometimes this means it is far more efficient (and fun) to create something from scratch. You have to make this trade-off!
- Get the basics working ASAP!
- Make it pretty later: focus on the necessities. Clean, efficient code, UI, title and details can come later.
- For brainstorming:
- Scrap your first idea
- “When the theme is announced, write down the first five things that come to mind and then toss them out” – Chevy Ray Johnston
- Visualize it (fake screenshot mock up)
- Mindmap it
- Break it into tasks
- Don’t forget the sound
Try to achieve the following milestones over the course of the weekend:
- Friday, 8 PM: be part of a team and have an initial, rough idea.
- Friday, 9 pm: first concept ready to be pitched.
- Friday, midnight: good, fleshed out game concept with clear team roles and tasks for the complete weekend, a detailed timeline, and preferably some groundwork for the first prototype.
- Saturday, noon: first working, playable prototype
- Saturday, 6 pm: prototype that embodies the final concept (“concept freeze”)
- Saturday, midnight: prototype that contains all of the essential features
- Sunday, noon: version with all desired features (“feature freeze”)
- Sunday, 3 pm: final game uploaded on GGJ server
Find a team on Friday evening and think of a first good, fleshed out game concept that you want to work on after the theme is revealed. Define team roles and divide tasks. Create a detailed timeline. If you have time, you can start working on the bare bones of the project. Another recommendation would be to paper prototype the concept. Even just a series of screenshot mockups will work here. We recommend and urge you to register your team and game registered on this evening too. During this evening PLAIT faculty will be available to brainstorm with you and help in developing your concepts. If you prefer, you can also decide to work alone (go as “lone wolf”) or work as a “freelancer” by providing services to various groups. At 16.30 we will start with an interactive and fun event, so try to make sure you make it to the library just before that.
- 16.00-17.00: Check in and jam registration
- 16.30: Start with interactive event
- 17.00-18.00: Theme reveal and presentations
- 18.00-20.00: Group Forming and Social “Get to Know Each Other” exercises and dinner
- 20.00-21.00: Brainstorming
- 21.00-22.00: Pitching and critique
- 24.00: Make sure you good, fleshed out game concept
On Saturday morning look at the concept one more time, with a fresh and critical look. If it still makes sense, stick to it and start working toward your first working prototype. Aim to get this playable version about mid-day. This doesn’t need to have all the art. You can use placeholders for the game. However, it does need to run and resemble your game in some form. It should especially contain the basic game mechanic because then you can test and see if your plans are working or if you need to revise them. If you need to make changes, try to be smart. Drastically changing your complete concept isn’t advisable at this stage. The remainder of Saturday will consist of filling in the essential features and content and continue with testing these. So plan some more playtests later this day (and make backups!), to make sure you have a bug free and playable version at all time. Before dinner we will play each others games and give critique. At that point your concept should be finalized (hence why it is called a “concept freeze”). After dinner you can tweak the concept until you have a prototype that has all the essential features.
- 08.00-9.00: Breakfast
- 11:00: Deadline to create user profile and game page
- 12.00: Your first prototype
- 12.00-13.00: Lunch
- 18.00: Deadline for having your basic concept implemented in a working prototype
- 18.00-19.00: Play each others prototypes and critique
- 19.00-20.00: Dinner
- 24.00: Make sure you have a prototype that has all the essential features
On Sunday start with testing your game again and discuss a priority of things that need to be done until the deadline. Sunday should be really the day of cleaning up the code and putting the icing on the cake. It is about putting the finishing touches on the game and adding final content. You should not add features at this point that affect the gameplay drastically. Also make sure you have a backup version, so you can always revert back to the playable version you created at the end of Saturday and which should be good enough to upload to the GGJ server. Aim at finishing pretty much everything before noon/lunch. At this point you should really stop implementing new features (hence why it is called a “feature freeze”). You should now start winding up by fixing bugs, adding any unfinished content and testing like crazy. Anyone who has nothing to do should start working on a trailer – or at least a video that demonstrates your game. This will make it easier for others to quickly see what your game is about.
The game judges will also be walking around, so this would be a time to grab one and give them a sneak peak at your game. In fixing bugs and polishing the game, make sure you communicate. Things can go horribly wrong if multiple team members are working on the same bug and/or changing the source code simultaneously. Try to have your game ready one hour before the submission deadline. Submitting may take some time and you don’t want to miss the deadline. Once that’s done, you can take a deep breath, take a short well deserved break, and then start preparing the presentation of your game in front of the jury and the other jammers.
- 08.00-9.00: Breakfast
- 12.00: Version with all desired features (first executable)
- 12.00-13.00: Lunch
- 13:00-14:00: Bug testing, create video
- 14.00: Second and final executable
- 15.00: Deadline for handing in the games
- 16.00-18.00: Presentations and awards
- UDK: the unreal development kit is also a free tool and a popular game engine. Lets you create a professional looking game in a short amount of time, but has a steeper learning curve than Unity.
- CryEninge3 SDK: professional development kit similar to UDK.
- Microsoft XNA: more of a framework than a game engine, but gives you a lot more control than Unity or UDK. Experience with programming is essential and especially with C#.
- GameSalad: lets you design games using drag-and-drop methods. You can develop on and publish to all major platforms.
- GameMaker: another drag-and-drop game creator.
- Processing: a programming language and development environment based on Java that can be used for developing games. You can find some of the games built with it here.
- OpenFrameworks: an open source C++ toolkit designed to assist the creative process by providing a simple and intuitive framework for experimentation.
- RPG Maker: a drag-and-drop game creator specifically focused on the RPG genre.
- Scratch: a programming language that makes it easy to create a game.
- Pygame: a set of Python modules designed for writing games. If you want to create games using the python language.
- LÖVE: to make 2D games in Lua.
- Flash in Flashdevelop with Flixel: to make flash-based games.
- Notepad++: a great little free text editor.
- See also list of game making tools from Pixel Prospector.com
- Blender: free 3D modeling and animation creation suite.
- Opengameart: for 2D pixel style art and some 3D art.
- Game-icons: hundred of free icons to customize and include in your games.
- PICOL: icon library.
- Art set resources: a wiki with links to free art set resources (including audio).
- See also list of royalty free graphics from Pixel Prospector.com
- Audacity: free program to record audio, cut and edit sound clips, apply some simple effects and then export into a few useful sound formats.
- LMMS: allows you to produce music.
- Sfxr: for basic sound effects in games.
- Bfxr: another tool for creating sound effects in games.
- Freesound: for all kinds of sounds.
- Beep box: tool for sketching and sharing chiptune melodies.
- Otomata: online generative musical sequencer.
- See also list of royalty free music and sounds from Pixel Prospector.com.
- Google Drive: no need to explain this!
- Dropbox: likewise.
- Github: free for open source for collaboration, review, and code management
- Tortoise SVN: for having a central repository and source control if you have a code-based project.
- Bit Bucket: Unlimited private repositories to collaborate on your code.
- Project Locker: svn source code hosting (free trial).
- Balsamiq: for creating mockups
- Freemind: a free mindmapping tool
- Mindjet: a collaborative work management software for brainstorming ideas, organizing information and managing projects and tasks. Free 30-day trial
- Prezi: used for presentation but can be adapted and used for brainstorming perfectly well too
- The whiteboards at the Digital Media Commons
- Good old piece of paper
- Ludum Dare: another worldwide game jam with a list of the tools they recommend for asset development.
- Fraps: to record your game and publish a video to promote your game.
- Chris Taylor game design template document
- Triadic game design worksheets for developing games for impact
- Gamasutra «Opinion: Indie Game Design Do-s and Don’t-s: A Manifesto»
- The Guardian «Five key lessons for every young game developer»